For thirty years I had been telling my sad story…Rick Springfield, my obsession for most of the 1980s, almost touched my hand at his 1983 concert at the Civic Center in Amarillo, Texas. The song was “Human Touch.” He was bringing it to life, and there I was, (and I know y’all will find this shocking) right by the stage. He reached down. I reached up. Our fingertips almost touched. Almost. So close, but then close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, right? It would forever be a disappointing, missed opportunity. At least it appeared that way.
Fast forward 30 years, almost to the day. I arrived home from the gym on a Friday morning to learn that Brett had not only purchased tickets for the two of us to see Rick Springfield at the beautifully renovated Joy Theater thejoytheater.com (and there’s my NOLA tie in), but he had gone a step beyond, getting the VIP tickets, complete with the after-the-show meet and greet with Rick. And the show was a mere 12 hours away! I could not stop smiling…or talking…or, quite literally, jumping up and down. Brett’s not a fan, but he was happy to see me so excited about our night.
I knew I would want an autograph, so I made a beeline for the attic, where I knew I had some Rick memorabilia. I’m not sure how your high school bedroom was decorated, but mine was done strictly in the decorative style of Springfield. Posters, pictures from magazines, ticket stubs, song lyrics I had written on pretty paper…all of this covered the cork wall in my hot pink, floral bedroom and spilled over onto at least one more wall. I had every one of his cassette tapes. I knew every word to every song…even the less than stellar ones. I even saw his movie “Hard to Hold,” and yes, it got two thumbs down, and no, it wasn’t much of a stretch for him to play a rockstar, but I liked it. Wonder if you can find it on Netflix…
Anyway I digress. And frankly I could digress all day. I loved him, in the “wow, looking back, I was really kind of a stalker” type of way. In the attic I found the “collector’s program” I had bought when I saw Rick the second time in 1984, and I came across a photograph I had taken on my old disc camera. (Google it if you’re not familiar with this little antique.) I determined that these were the two items I would have him autograph. Memorabilia mission accomplished! Now, I still have all of Rick’s cassette tapes, but with no cassette player and only a few of his songs on my computer where I can actually listen to them, I immediately began downloading songs, both old and from his brand new album, which I thought was really good. Sure, my 12-year-old came in to the kitchen and told me the music I was listening to was “quite cheesy” but I disagreed. As a matter of fact, I’m listening to it as I write this…with no shame whatsoever.
After getting everyone off to school, I carefully picked out my outfit for the concert…this was a big deal because it would be the outfit that I would forever remember as the one I wore when I met Rick Springfield. (I really picked out two so I would have choices come concert time…a woman’s got to have options, you know.) While I had toyed with the idea of an 80s look (and some at the show went with this attire), I remembered just how ridiculous I actually looked in the 80s and rejected the hairspray and lace gloves. I finished packing my bag for our night in New Orleans, and we were off. After a late lunch and some time celebrating Steve Gleason at the Superdome, we headed to our hotel room to get ready for the show.
I chose outfit number one, grabbed my old photograph, my collector’s program, and a brand new Sharpie, and we were off to the theater just a few blocks away. I was so giddy, I might have skipped there had I not been wearing 5-inch heels. I was a little surprised when we took our seats in the theater. While scanning the crowd, I felt, well, young, compared to most of the other concert-goers. A large group of ladies were there celebrating a 50th birthday. There were a couple of OLD looking rocker chicks, and two intoxicated grandmotherly types. There were more than a few of us mid-40s folks there, but we seemed to be in the minority.
The 8:00 show began with a comedian. A not-at-all-funny comedian, I should add. She spent about twenty minutes telling “jokes” and maybe she was actually funnier than I’m giving her credit for being, but I was impatient, and I just wanted her to be done. She was just another obstacle between Rick and me. She finished her act, and I began mentally preparing for the main act. I assumed he would be out shortly, but there was still some equipment set-up to be done. And a marriage proposal to be extended! So, ok, you first met your girlfriend at the Joy Theater and wanted to propose to her here. That’s sweet. And you’ve been together for 20 years. Ok, that’s a really long time, but better late than never, right? And you have two kids together? Alrighty…absolutely no judgment here. But really, you chose this moment to propose? Ok…whatever. We’re happy for you. Go have a wonderful life. But go now! Some of us have dreams to live out! 🙂
Rick finally made his way on to the stage at 9:00. And did he ever look great?! Yeah, he’s 64, but he doesn’t look it. Not even close. We were seated on the second row, but as soon as he appeared, everyone stood and moved toward the front. Not wasting any time, I grabbed a spot next to the stage and spent the next two hours singing loudly and smiling so much my face hurt. He opened with a new song…not what I was there for but good, nonetheless. This led into “I’ve Done Everything for You” and “I Get Excited,” two of my old favs. He sang almost all of his old hits. (And to those of you who think he was a one hit wonder with Jesse’s Girl, he had many songs that received lots of airplay!) He sang several more songs from his new album, which the lady next to me knew by heart…guess I’m not his biggest fan. He even threw in a few covers, including the Beatles “When I’m 64.” It was cute. I was amazed at his energy. I was completely impressed with his guitar skills. I loved that he seemed to be enjoying himself, and I thought about how fortunate he was to be able to continue to earn a living and make people happy with his music, decades after he became a star.
Somewhere late in the set, he sang “Human Touch.” I reached up and he grabbed my hand…held it for probably five seconds. Sad, missed opportunity memory erased! If the night had ended there, I would have considered it a gigantic win. If it had been over after he came out for the encore and did the Beatles “All My Loving” and his hit “Kristina,” I would gone back to the hotel thinking that it had been an absolutely perfect night. But it wasn’t over. The meet and greet awaited!
We waited for him to come out, about ten deep in a well-behaved little single file line, for probably 30 minutes. One good thing about being with an old crowd is that everyone is pretty mannerly…maybe not the drunk old ladies, but they staggered out after the show. With my photo and 30-year-old program in hand, I waited, terrified that I would become so nervous that my mind would go utterly blank and I wouldn’t be able to speak when my turn came. Then suddenly, they called me, and as I walked up next to the man I had idolized for all of my teen years, my anxiousness ended. I stood next to him and told him of the near hand touching incident in 1983. He commented on the pristine condition of my program. We laughed at the terrible quality of the old photograph and how bad technology was back then. He was extremely nice. After he signed my treasures, he put his arm around me, a photographer took our photo, and then it was some other lucky middle-aged lady’s turn. Just as quickly as it had begun, it was over. I was a little sad that it had to end, but the entire night had completely lived up to the self-created hype.
I had been standing for two and a half hours in those five-inch heels, but as we made our way back to the hotel, I felt like I was walking on a cloud. My husband had made a 30-year dream of mine come true in that little theater on Canal Street. And “What Kind of Fool Am I?” if I don’t tell him how much it meant to me every day for the next three decades? 🙂